Best of West Marin North According to Marin Magazine 2009 Editors Choice

San Geronimo Valley, Nicasio, Olema, Point Reyes Station, Inverness, Marshall & Tomales

West Marin North Top 5

1 Point Reyes Books The community’s intellectual center. Owners Steve Costa and Kate Levinson not only sell books, they helped sponsor the West Marin Review and produce a nationally recognized literary conference as well as numerous other local events.

2 Toby’s Coffee Bar The community’s caffeine and social center. Artistically poured organic espresso, yummy scones, Adirondack chairs in the sun and free wi-fi. Big fave with locals and with weekend visitors.

3 Marin Sun Farms Grass-fed beef, pork and chicken, killer eggs and homemade jerky served out of a butcher shop just outside Point Reyes Station. Look for the big cow sign. Order ahead, pick up on your way home.

4 Spirit Matters Feed the mind and the soul at this Inverness Park shop with owner Nonnie Welch’s assortment of “oddities and deities.” Buddhas big and small, Mexican artesania and good karma to go. 415.663.8699

5 Nick’s Cove Pat Kuleto and Mark Franz’s new old-style fish shack in Marshall on Tomales Bay serves up oysters “Nick-erfeller,” killer po’ boys, and much more. Eat like a ranch hand, then sleep like a king.

This northern slice of West Marin, from the San Geronimo Valley to Dillon Beach, includes the Point Reyes National Seashore, where you can (and should) spend a day devoted to its wonders. So, this itinerary is just a sampler, something to entice your repeated return.

Start at the Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes Station. Grab a supersize blueberry-buttermilk scone, then cross the street to Toby’s Coffee Bar for a creamy cappuccino.

Energized, go south on Highway 1 and turn into the national seashore. Stop at the Bear Valley Visitor Center for history. Walk the San Andreas Fault on the nearby 0.6-mile earthquake trail and then drive out to the Point Reyes Lighthouse (opens at 10 a.m.). On the way back, detour at the Drakes Bay Family Farms oyster farm.

At midday, you’re in Olema. Visit the corner shops. Epicenter has the Dogtown T-shirt you need. Lunch awaits at the Pine Cone Diner in Point Reyes Station (homemade corn beef hash or a monster burger).

Walk off those calories. Stroll Main Street—Point Reyes Books, Marty Knapp’s gorgeous black-and-white photographs, the eclectic art of Gallery Route One—then drive 1.5 miles north of town on Highway 1 to the Tomales Bay Trail (parking on the left) and walk 2.2 rolling miles out and back for views of the bay and wetlands.

Keeping north on the highway, pull over at the Marshall Store for a photo op and more oysters, then onward to picturesque Tomales—lovely old churches and the William Tell House, Marin’s oldest saloon.

Wrap up your day by doubling back to Marshall and Nick’s Cove for dinner and drinks—grilled salmon and Pey-Marin Riesling inside, or margaritas and Tomales Bay clam chowder at the outdoor Boat Shack. The curvy Tomales-Petaluma Road will guide designated drivers home, or better yet, spend the night in a bayside cabin.

Quick Picks

What’s better than a day in West Marin? Two days! Here are some other favorite places to overnight: In Olema, the Olema Cottages, Olema Druids Hall and the Olema Inn (often used for weekend weddings); in Inverness, Blackthorne Inn and Golden Hinde Inn (for families); in Point Reyes Station, Ferrando’s Hideaway Cottages, the Old Point Reyes Schoolhouse Compound and the Black Heron Inn.

Did You Know?

• Olema is Miwok for coyote.

• Nicasio is pronounced nee-CASH-oh.

• The Point Reyes Lighthouse was first lit in 1870.

• Tomales population: 210.

• Dogtown was originally named Woodville.